The freedom to marry abroad: Updates from France, United Kingdom, and Australia

As the freedom to marry continues racking up wins this year in the United States, the rest of the world is continuing its journey toward ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Same-sex couples in eleven countries around in the world - from The Netherlands to Spain to Argentina to South Africa - have the freedom to marry, while an additional three countries have court-directed or regional provisions enabling some same-sex couples to share in marriage. Several other countries are working toward full marriage protections for all loving and committed couples in the next year. Here are some exciting recent developments out of three countries.

United Kingdom

David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom, is working hard to push a bill extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. He and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister and British Liberal Democrat Leader, have said they plan to hold a vote on marriage for same-sex couples in the next year - and some sources have explained that Cameron and Clegg may work on fast-tracking a vote so that it happens in the next few weeks.  Prime Minister Cameron has repeatedly reminded communities of faith in the U.K. that the law would only apply to civil marriage - meaning that no church or religious organization would be forced to marry same-sex couples. 

Many high-profile voices have spoken out in favor of the freedom to marry in the United Kingdom. Anglican Bishop Alan Wilson, who has served as the Bishop of Buckingham in the Diocese of Oxford for the Church of England since 2003, has encouraged British people that "love is the fulfilling of the law - God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them." In October, music legend Elton John wrote a piece for The Independent explaining, "I don't accept civil partnerships because there is a world of difference between calling someone your 'partner' and calling them your 'husband.' ... Until the law recognizes David Furnish as my husband, and not merely my partner, the law won't describe the man I know and adore." Labour party leader Ed Miliband has also filmed a video in support of marriage for same-sex couples. 


Just a few weeks ago, the French Cabinet approved the draft of the bill that would extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples across the country. The approval comes after the country's new president, Francois Hollande, was elected on a platform that promised to end marriage discrimination in the country. According to The New York Times, the bill is expected to pass early next year.

Today, news broke that Carla Bruni, the former First Lady of France - wife of conservative former President Nicolas Sarkozy - supports the freedom to marry. In the new issue of Vogue, the media personality said, "I'm rather in favor [of the marriage bill] because I have a lot of friends - men and women - who are in this situation, and I see nothing unstable or perverse in families with gay parents."

A number of polls have indicated that a majority of the French population favors marriage for gay and lesbian couples.  


On Sunday, over a thousand people were in attendance at a rally for the freedom to marry in Sydney, Australia. A host of marriage advocates - including representatives from organizatiions like New South Wales Greens, Australian Marriage Equality, and Community Action Against Homophobia - spoke at the rally. In September, legislators in Australia failed to pass a federal law for the freedom to marry.

CAAH's Bryn Hutchinson said about the rally, "This was the first marriage equality rally since the federal government failed to pass legislation that would have given us full citizenship. It was great to see such a turn out of supporters and members of the community. ... It sends a strong message that we will not be giving up or going away just becasue parliament refused to give us the equal rights we are entitled to."

Polling has consistently shown that over 60 percent of Australians support ending marriage discrimination in the country.

CLICK HERE for more information on the freedom to marry internationally.